Austin is an international business and cultural hub, so people are becoming increasingly concerned about the coronavirus. I encourage you to check cdc.gov (Centers for Disease Control) for the most accurate information about what to do to protect yourself and your family. Of course, talk with your doctor as well; they can offer you reassurance about the reality vs the propaganda that you may see in various news sources.
The main areas of concern that people are talking about are:
- Getting sick (catching the virus)
- Economic impact
There are many great articles circulating about how to manage both of these. Being informed and being prepared are the best remedies for any anxiety you may be experiencing. The CDC website addresses each of these remedies.
I’ll briefly summarize the information here:
How to decrease your risk of contracting Coronavirus
Basically, it’s the same behaviors you practice to avoid getting the flu:
- Check-in with your doctor, especially if you have other risk factors like diabetes, respiratory disorders, immune disorders, etc.
- Wash your hands properly, using warm soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20-30 seconds
- Use 60-95% alcohol hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your face
- Avoid people that are sick
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or your shirt sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Dispose properly of tissues. Encourage others to practice proper coughing/sneezing etiquette as well
- Encourage friends, family, and coworkers to stay home if they are sick (and you do the same as well)
- Live a healthy lifestyle that includes getting plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy food (plenty of fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly
- Stop smoking and drinking excessive alcohol
- Even though we are talking about the coronavirus, get your flu shot! It can’t hurt and it’s also flu season!
Understanding and preparing for economic impact
First of all, in spite of what you may have read, it is too soon to know for certain what the impact may be. It may not be as bad as some media outlets are leading you to believe.
The general idea in terms of the business and factory shutdowns in China is this: Since they provide so many products that we use in everyday life, or they assemble those products, the shutdowns are thought to have a trickle-down effect where products may be more difficult to obtain and therefore more expensive. The fear is that this could cripple an economy. Again, we just don’t know that this is going to happen at all. And IF there is a trickle-down effect, we don’t know that it will be as severe as the media may say it is going to be. We are far better prepared for this sort of thing than we were in 1918 when a flu pandemic struck.
The other concern is the availability of basic grocery goods like food, water, and other household items. Remember the fear a year or two ago about gas shortages due to refinery fires on the gulf coast? Everybody was in a panic to get gasoline. There was actually never a shortage of supplies from refineries. It was the panic that caused people to line up at the gas stations and deplete the local (i.e. at the gas pump) gas supply faster than usual. Had everybody remained calm and just filled up on their regular schedule, we likely would not have noticed much more than a slight temporary price increase. The problem was the panic that was fueled by media outlets. It was NOT a shortage of gas. Likewise, people are currently going out and buying up household staples as if there is going to be an apocalypse. Yes, being prepared (see below) is a great idea. It is always a good idea to have a couple of weeks of food, water, and medications on hand; but we don’t need to go empty out Costco and Sam’s Club of their bread, water, and toilet paper!
To be prepared for any kind of emergency (like a natural disaster) it is a good idea to have the following:
- 2-3 weeks of bottled water. These can be those gallon jugs or the 5-gallon water bottles you see at the store.
- 2-3 weeks of non-perishable foods (Canned goods, pasta, etc. Basically things that don’t go bad)
- 2-3 weeks of your medications, both over the counter and prescription. A first-aid kit is never a bad idea
- While an electrical outage is unlikely to occur in response to the CoVID-19 situation, having a supply of batteries, a hand-crank radio (many of these will also charge your phones as you crank them), and candles/matches is a good idea
- DO NOT PANIC!! Being prepared means you don’t have to panic